'It's really just devastating': Young adults face logistical hurdles to voting

워싱턴 American University students Meredith Reilly and Zachary Houdek requested absentee ballots earlier this fall. But when they realized on Sunday, with just over a week until Election Day, that their mail-in ballots had yet to arrive, the pair hopped in the car and drove 27 hours from Washington, DC, to Texas to cast their ballots in person for the 2020 선거.

We’re particularly motivated,” Reilly told CNN. “I never expected my vote to matter that much. But this election is getting very close and exciting,” Reilly said.
Reilly and Houdek, 양자 모두 20 살이에요, want to play their part in what they said is a historic election.
    According to the pair, before leaving for Texas, not only had their mail-in ballots not yet arrived at their off campus housing in DC, but they had both not yet received confirmation that their ballots had even been processed.
    Reilly and Houdek’s 1,300-mile drive is a testament to the commitment of young people to cast their ballot this year.
    Meredith Reilly upon arrival in Texas.

    But despite young people’s high enthusiasm to vote, voting has not been made easy for college-aged Americans. Unprocessed ballot requests, missing mail-in ballots and even difficulty registering because of changed addresses have made voting difficult ahead of the 2020 선거, young adults from across the country told CNN.
    The college juniors said they voted absentee in Texas from DC in the 2018 midterm elections without a problem.
    그러나, “this election has been so different, it’s been horrible,” Houdek said, pointing to his struggle to obtain a mail-in ballot in 2020. When he realized the absentee voting window was closing, both he and Reilly decided they had no choice but to drive to their home state and vote in person.
    The issues with voting described by Houdek, Reilly and others comes as a high number of the 20 million college students nationwide have been forced to live off-campus because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    According to Nancy Thomas and Adam Gismondi of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts, many college students aren’t on campus right now, which they say, could complicate voting for students.
    Chaos and confusion in voting affects all voters, but especially college student voters,” 도마, the institute’s director, CNN에 말했다. She added that many students who learned how to vote and voted for the first time during the 2018 midterms may have to rethink their voting practices because of a change in location.
    It also comes as polling data and high levels of voter engagement indicate 2020 젊은 유권자들을 끌어들일 수 있습니다, 전문가들은 말한다.
    According to early voting data provided by Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations and is giving new insights into who is voting before November, younger voters (나이 18-29) are casting significantly more ballots and make up a greater share of the pre-Election Day vote than they did around the same time four years ago in all of the key states with information available.
    그러나, despite high enthusiasm from young voters and reasons to believe there will be high youth voter turnout, experts warn that it’s too early to jump to any conclusions about the youth vote in 2020.
    The story is not yet written. There are hurdles for student voters in this election,” Gismondi, the institute’s director of impact, CNN에 말했다. “Right now motivation seems to be there for students to engage in the election, but logistical hurdles still exist.

    ‘By the time I get the ballot, it could be too late

    Zara Johnson, 18, won’t be able to vote this November.
    On her 18th birthday this July, Johnson registered to vote in Reading, 펜실베니아. Despite not having a driver’s license, Johnson said the online voter registration process was straightforward.
    But when it came time to request her absentee ballot, 존슨, a student at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, said the process was far more complicated, and she could not complete it online.
    Though she tried for weeks, she was unable to request the absentee ballot before the deadline.
    지금, she can’t vote in the 2020 선거, 그녀는 CNN에 말했다.
    You know how on your 16th birthday you get your license? 나에게, on my 18th birthday I could register to vote. 나에게, that was more exciting than getting my license,” 존슨은 말했다.
    Johnson considered going home to Pennsylvania to vote on Election Day, but was hesitant to do so as her mother works in health care. Johnson feared that if she were to go back home, she would risk exposing her mother to the virus. On top of that, even if Johnson did go home, since she would be coming from South Carolina, she would have to quarantine for 14 일, as per Pennsylvania’s Covid-19 travel recommendationsat which point she would miss the 2020 선거.
    Even for students who were able to successfully request their absentee ballots, some report that the ballots never arrived.
    Bruce Wilson, 21 and a senior at Hampton University in Virginia, worked to organize his peers around the 2020 선거, getting friends involved and registered to vote who may not have otherwise, Wilson told CNN.
    Wilson convened a group of friends to request their absentee ballots and go through the process step by step together. But with five days until November 3, many of them have yet to receive their mail-in ballots.
    윌슨, who is from Chicago, says he requested his absentee ballot five weeks ago, but it has not yet arrived at his off-campus apartment in Virginia.
    For Wilson, voting is aritual” 그는 말했다, and at this point, he plans to go home to Chicago to vote on Election Day.
    I’ve been trying to avoid being home because I have parents and grandparents who I’m trying to avoid because of the Covid issue,” Wilson said, adding that due to Covid-19 and financial reasons, many of his peers will not be able to do the same.
    This is a small form of voter suppression that I feel like we have experienced being away from the place we are registered to vote. We’re just like siloed,” Wilson said. “This is one election that I can say that a lot of people who weren’t registered to vote before and weren’t excited about voting went out of their way to do the proper steps to get their ballot counted and we’re still experiencing troubles.
    Wilson’s friend, Brandi Howliet, 또한 21, a senior at Hampton and from Chicago, is in a similar situation.
    Howliet told CNN she requested her ballot in September. The ballot was mailed from Chicago and arrived in Virginia, 10 월 23, Howliet says, noting she tracked the ballot. But the ballot was never delivered to her apartment because of a missing apartment number, and it was sent back to Chicago as a result. Howliet called the Chicago Board of Elections when the tracker said her ballot had been returned to Chicago, and they told her they were resending the ballot with the updated address.
    이 지점에서, Howliet has yet to vote, and isextremely worriedshe won’t be able to, 그녀는 CNN에 말했다. Howliet says she lost her license earlier this month, and so she can’t board a plane to Chicago.
    I’m kind of stuck,” 그녀가 말했다.
    I was so excited because in 2016, I wasn’t old enough to vote. So now that I actually have the opportunity to, I’m looking forward to it,” Howliet added. “By the time I get the ballot, it could be too late.
    Bruce Wilson, organizing young voters via Zoom call this fall.

    Yasmin El Zaher, a 23-year-old in Pennsylvania, is also worried she will not be able to vote in 2020, 그녀는 CNN에 말했다.
    I am so nervous it’s literally giving me anxiety,” 그녀가 말했다.
    El Zaher was previously enrolled at Temple University and voted in Philadelphia during the 2016 election and 2018 중간 고사, 그녀가 말했다.
    But El Zaher has not been able to attend school for the past two semesters, as she can no longer afford the cost of tuition, and therefore, does not currently live in Philadelphia where she was previously registered to vote.
    El Zaher now lives with her family in Delaware County, 펜실베니아, where she struggled to register. She said she tried to register online twice but had no success.
    In mid-October, El Zaher went to the county office and ultimately registered to vote, but there was a malfunction in Pennsylvania’s system that day and she was asked to come back to actually cast her ballot.
    When she left, the county office told El Zaher they would mail her ID card but, with five days until the Election, her ID card has not arrived.
      El Zaher, who works to organize other voters, is worried the card will never arrive, 그녀는 CNN에 말했다, saying she can’t put her feelings of frustration into words.
      It’s really just devastating. I can’t even put into words how I feel. It’s so hard talking to people who are voting or seeing them post pictures mailing in their ballot or with their I voted sticker and me knowing that might not be me,” 그녀가 말했다.

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